Wisconsin Outdoor News Fishing Report — April 7, 2017


Any ice that remained was black, rotten, and expected to be gone by publication date. Some bodies of water are open enough to allow for shoreline fishing, but the crappie bite has been slow. This could change quick with continued warm weather.

Country Store (715) 268-7482


It’s time to get seines, waders, and nets ready for smelt season. The season hasn’t started, as there’s still ice on the bay. Usually smelting starts the first or second week in April, depending on Mother Nature. We need wind to blow the ice out and warmer temps. It won’t be long! Early steelhead season on the tributaries opened March 25. The streams are open to the first barrier. The streams were high and somewhat cloudy last week. Reports of some nice steelhead have come in on spawn.

Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.

River Rock, (715) 682-3232.


There was still ice on most big lakes last week, but wind and warm weather chewed away at it, so it’s not expected to last. Most small lakes have minimal ice and they should be ice-free by the weekend.

Indianhead Sport Shop


Brown trout fishing is off to a very strong start for shore fishermen and trollers. Anglers are having good action trolling the Lake Michigan shoreline from Bailey’s Harbor south past Algoma, especially out in front of the tributaries. Another good spot right now has been right in downtown Sturgeon Bay from the bridges out to the pier heads. As soon as the ice totally goes away, fishermen will be trolling the shorelines from Sturgeon Bay and north all the way up to Gills Rock on the bay side. That’s anticipated to happen within the next week. Mauler spoons and crankbaits such as Thundersticks and Rapalas have been the top baits.

Stream fishermen are having some very good success in the Lake Michigan tributaries for high flying rainbow trout. Spawn sacs, yarn eggs, gulp eggs, and spinners all have been quite effective.

Walleye trollers and rip jig fishermen are getting ready for all of the floating ice to go away so they can go after some pre-spawn walleyes. Areas to try are right in downtown Sturgeon Bay, the Potawatomi State Park shoreline, Sherwood Point, Henderson’s Point, and the vast shoreline to the north of Sturgeon Bay. Nighttime trolling with large crankbaits is what most folks do, but some will anchor up and cast to a spot with active fish. Also, during the day, you can drift with suckers while pitching some plastics and Rip-n-Rap style baits to  trigger some good bites.

Pike fishing has been OK for the fishermen in the Sturgeon Bay channel who are willing to dodge icebergs. Jigging with OddBall jigs tipped with minnows, dragging suckers on bottom bouncers and trolling large crankbaits and spoons are all good ways to boat a big pike or two.

Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.

Algoma Chamber of Commerce, (920) 487-3090.


This waiting time, before it’s really spring and when the weather seems to be taunting us, is a tough time up here. We’ve had enough rain, wind and messy weather to last, it seems, a lifetime. We’ve got enough ice to do some ice fishing yet – roughly 10 to 15 inches depending on the lake.

We have a number of guys traveling to the various rivers or to the Great Lakes at this time of year, but around here it is panfishing only on the remaining ice sheets. This is the time when people start thinking about that great crappie fishing in the evenings. This is the best ice fishing of the year when it gets going. What we need is continued warmer weather and nights warm enough to let the holes stay open. Crappies make a move every day in the evening to the weeds to feed. Crappies are hitting in deeper water now, but they don’t seem to be as concentrated this year as they have been in the past. Guys are reporting a few fish on a daily basis in 20 to 25 feet of water on minnows or jigs with waxies. Perch are feeding daily on wigglers fished near the bottom in soft-bottomed areas where mayfly larvae are in the mud.

Bluegills are hitting as usual in the weeds, but we have had consistent reports of decent bluegills in deeper water this year.

Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.


There are still a few diehard fishermen getting out there on the ice, but with the expected warmer temps during the day and above freezing at night, it will deteriorate quickly. A couple of anxious anglers found open access on local rivers to launch their boats last week. Perch have been hit or miss, but fishermen have been catching good numbers of crappies and bluegills on minnows and wax worms.

Whisler Outdoors, (715) 528-4411.


Anglers have been stacked up in the rivers around Green Bay in search of walleyes that are stacked up nearly as deeply as the boats. Most anglers are catching some walleyes by either jigging, casting crankbaits, or by trolling crankbaits. Get in on the action before it’s too late – again.

Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.


This will wind up ice fishing reports – few, if any people are fishing with the quickly disintegrating ice conditions. Use common sense and err on the side of caution and safety. This is a great time to work on the boat, organize open-water tackle, repair, replace, and upgrade equipment, buy new fishing licenses (old licenses expired March 31) – do the things you know you will not have time to do once the weather changes to spring/summer season!

Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.

Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.


Anglers are still eking out decent catches of panfish, primarily crappies with bluegills coming in a distant second. The fishing has been good, and most lakes still had ice tight to shore through the middle of last week. Most lakes has 14 to 18 inches of ice then.

Turtle River Trading Co., Mercer, (715) 476-0123.


The Mississippi River was giving up more saugers than walleyes last week. A jig and minnow, plastics, and crankbaits were producing fish along the current breaks in 10 to 15 feet of water below the dams. The saugers are typically a little bit deeper than the walleyes. Water temperatures were about 40 degrees on the river, so be ready for those bigger walleyes to start biting when it hits 45 degrees.

Schafer’s Boats, (608) 781-3100.

Bob’s Bait and Tackle, (608) 782-5552.


In Kenosha County, a few shore anglers fished in the harbor last week. Only one reported catching a brown trout on a tube with a wax worm. The water temperature was 42 degrees. On the Pike River, only one angler reported catching fish – three steelhead using black Wooly Bugger.

In Racine County, the Root River was very turbid last week from all of the rain and visibility is about 1 inch. No one reported catching any steelhead.

In Milwaukee, the fishing pressure and catch rate on McKinley Pier continues to be low. A couple of brown trout and a nice-size rainbow were landed in McKinley Marina on March 24 by an angler casting Little Cleos. Anglers under the Hoan Bridge (near Jones Island) were targeting brown trout, rainbows, and perch with spawn sacks, shiners, and fatheads fished on the bottom. Most of the fish landed have been brown trout. A 28-inch northern pike was released under the Hoan on March 24. A couple of anglers fished from the island below the Kletzsch waterfall and caught a few rainbows. Most of the Kletzsch Park anglers fished downstream near the Bender Road Bridge. Rainbows were seen on the gravel bars on the upstream side of the bridge.

In Ozaukee County, the Port Washington harbor is still producing a few brown trout. Anglers have mostly been using spawn sacs or shiners on the bottom near the power plant discharge. The North Pier is undergoing construction and will be closed until the end of June.

In Sheboygan County, the Sheboygan River has been producing a few steelhead and brown trout, primarily around the Kohler Dam area, but fish can be found throughout the river. Fish can be caught on spawn under a bobber or drifted with a three-way rig on the bottom, but a few anglers had success casting spoons or spinners. A few northern pike were caught in the lower stretches of the river.

DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.

Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.

Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.


Anglers were just starting to see a few walleyes moving past Winneconne last week, and the best action was coming at night. Locals expect the walleye fishing to kick in this week. Last week, the perch action was exploding everywhere along the river.

Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.

Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.

Dutch’s, (920) 922-0311.


Fishing has been slow, but things should start to pick up with above-freezing temperatures overnight. Look for things to start going near Naughty Gal and the inlets around Lake Mendota – check out any of the creeks. Monona Bay has been producing some panfish. There has been some bluegill action at Viking Park in Stoughton.

D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.

Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.


The Menominee River was producing some nice brown trout last week and a few walleyes below the Hattie Street Dam and down to Stephenson Island. Large stickbaits worked best. The lower river still had some ice cover and the boat launches were still iced in. Very little water was being released from the Hattie Street Dam.

Waterfront Sport Shop, (906) (906) 424-4108.


Fishing has been good, if not great. East winds have slowed the bite, but otherwise action has been steady with some periods of excellent action.

Crappies: Very good – the fish of choice for many anglers at this time of year. When the bite is on, tip-downs baited with crappie minnows or small rosies are hard to beat.

Yellow perch: Very good – most action has been in shallow weeds. Fish move to these areas heavy with spawn, and are feeding “big.” Use crappie minnows or even medium fatheads on tip-downs or below small floats.

Bluegills: Very good – action has been hot in some locales, but sorting is required.

Ice thickness varied last week from as high as 20 inches to as few as 14 inches, with most reports of 15 to 16 inches. The south end of Big Arbor Vitae Lake traditionally holds on to its ice the longest, so it should still have some fishable ice this week.

Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.

J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.


The ice that remains is black and the shores are opening, so it’s no longer safe to be ice fishing in this area. On Lake Superior, small boats were being utilized close to shore where anglers are catching coho salmon and Kamloops in the top 20 feet of the water column. Trolling small crankbaits and spoons has worked best. Other fishermen had been catching Kamloops from shore near the French River on Minnesota’s North Shore on wax worms and Looper Bugs, spawn sacs, and nightcrawlers.

Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094

Categories: News, Wisconsin Fishing Reports

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